The Delhi Development Authority claimed it did not know the scale of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s World Culture Festival when it gave permission to build a stage for the event on the Yamuna flood plain. The civic body, however, added that there was no purpose in stopping the event, now that it was already underway.
The statement came before the National Green Tribunal on the third day of hearings over the location of the two-and-a-half-day event which is slated to begin next week. Construction is underway just off the Delhi Noida Direct Flyway, and stretched over 1,000 acres.
Petitioners Manoj Mishra and Anand Arya filed a case against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s foundation The Art of Living and the DDA. The petition said the event went against a 2015 NGT order that no construction would be allowed on the Yamuna banks. It added that the construction of the venue and the 35 lakh people the event was expected to draw would cause irreparable damage to the fragile ecosystem.
This event has nothing to do with any rational issue. It is at best a private event and it has no sanctity as to the date, and therefore it can be held at any venue on any day. This is not like a Kumbh Mela, which [Art of Living] are trying to say themselves. I don’t subscribe to that idea at all.Anand Arya, Petitioner
Reports commissioned by the NGT and the Ministry of Environment and Forests found that preparations for the event had levelled vegetation on the flood plain, and identified construction debris by the river. Flattening of soils in the area will restrict the flood plain’s function of absorbing water during the monsoon, the petitioners said.
The Art of Living shared a letter with The Quint which they sent to the DDA on 14 December 2015 alerting the authorities to the debris on the site before construction began. The organisation also said that they will make the Yamuna flood plain more beautiful than before.
Hearings will continue next week.